“Defining dual-use items: legal approximations to an ever-relevant notion”, by Ana Sánchez-Cobaleda

Sánchez-Cobaleda, Ana. “Defining dual-use items: legal approximations to an ever-relevant notion”, TheNonproliferation Review, Vol. 28, maig 2023.

This article analyzes how the legal sources of nonproliferation regimes define “dual-use items,” a concept that lacks a universal and fixed definition despite its importance to international security and trade. The analysis shows how these legally binding and soft-law sources approach dual-use goods and technologies differently and classifies them based on the criteria they employ to define the potential uses of these strategic items: the dichotomies of peaceful versus non-peaceful and civil versus military, and the intentionality criterion. The article also traces the expansion of the concept beyond a concern with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It analyzes how the existence of multiple criteria to define such items affects their international control. It also considers the evolution that this notion may undergo, which may call into question the standards of legal certainty that the international regime of dual-use items aims to provide.